How To Report Your Earnings While Collecting SSI

Young disabled freelance worker working on a computer while being with his dog at home.
Drazen Zigic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Supplemental Security Income is a supplementary income program funded by federal tax revenues. It’s intended to help older, blind and disabled Americans who have little or no income. Payments provide money to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.

See: How To Boost Your Social Security Benefit With Supplemental Security Income
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Although the payments don’t come from the Social Security fund, most people find out they are eligible for supplemental income through the Social Security Administration. The SSA routinely sends notices to people who already receive benefits to let them know they may be eligible for another type of benefit. Through June 2022, the agency will be sending notices to Social Security beneficiaries who may be eligible for SSI. 

You’re eligible to apply for SSI if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • Age 65 or older
  • Blind
  • Disabled

And, you:

  • Have limited income and resources
  • Are a U.S. citizen or national, or you’re an alien not subject to an active deportation warrant
  • Reside in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Don’t leave the U.S. for a full calendar month or for 30 consecutive days
  • Are not confined to an institution, such as a hospital or prison, at the government’s expense
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See: Social Security Disability Insurance — What It Is and How It Pays
Find: 10 Major Tax Credits and Deductions for Disabled Tax Filers

Children can qualify for the benefit if they are under age 18 and are considered disabled. The SSA defines disabled as having a medically diagnosed physical or mental impairment that severely limits functional abilities and has lasted or is expected to 12 months or more or result in death.  

For those 18 years and older, the adult definition of disability is a medically diagnosed physical or mental impairment that prevents you from doing “substantial gainful activity” and has lasted or is expected last at least 12 months or result in death.

SSI is intended to provide benefits as quickly as possible to those who can’t provide for themselves because of age or a documented disability. If you work while receiving SSI, it is crucial that you report your income to the SSA. For example, you must report if you start (or stop) working, and you must report your monthly wages or changes in your earnings. Other items to report include taking or stopping an additional job or incurring work-related expenses related to your disability. Blind SSI recipients should report any work expenses they incur.

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See: The Best Places in Every State To Live on a Fixed Income
Find: 5 Ways to Get a Mortgage Even If You Don’t Meet Income Requirements

This information must be reported by the 10th day of the month that follows the month when the change was made. For example, if you receive SSI and your employer gives you a raise on Feb. 12, you’ll notify the SSA of your pay increase by March 10. Similarly, if you work two jobs and leave one in March, you’ll report the change to the SSA by April 10.

The SSA offers several ways to report earnings and changes in earnings. The easiest is to call the Social Security office at 800-772-1213 (for TTY, 800-325-0778). You may also download the SSI Mobile Wage Reporting app from Google Play or the Apple Store. As always, a mySocialSecurity account can help you easily make changes online using the myWageReport widget on the site.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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